Tottenham v Man Utd: the predictions, the psychology, the injuries

Tottenham continue to be that oddity – the team that performs better away from home than at home.

Partly this is to do with the fact that they are at Wembley, instead of New White Hart Lane, despite promises that the ground would be ready for this season.  Partly we have to take into account the fact that they have played fewer home games, courtesy of arrangements with the Football League to help them.

This last point affects the table so today here is the League table for home games only, with the average points per game shown in the final column.

P Team P W D L F A GD Pts Av
1 Manchester City 11 10 0 1 37 10 27 30 2.72
2 Liverpool 10 9 1 0 27 3 24 28 2.80
3 Arsenal 11 8 2 1 24 10 14 26 2.36
4 Chelsea 11 6 4 1 19 8 11 22 2.00
5 Manchester United 10 6 3 1 21 13 8 21 2.10
6 Tottenham Hotspur 9 6 0 3 18 9 9 18 2.00

The best performing teams at home are Liverpool and Manchester City, followed by Arsenal, Man U, and then Chelsea and Tottenham.  So Tottenham’s lack of games does not hide a higher position – they are sixth in the home league even when games played are taken into account.

Here is Manchester United’s away record

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 12 10 0 2 28 12 16 30
2 Liverpool 11 8 2 1 22 7 15 26
3 Chelsea 10 7 1 2 19 8 11 22
4 Manchester City 10 6 2 2 19 7 12 20
5 Manchester United 11 5 2 4 22 19 3 17

Man U have certainly been performing more modestly away from home than the hype that constantly surrounds the club would suggest.

But Man U’s recent results have been remarkable since their change of manager

2 Dec 2018 Cardiff City v Manchester United W 1-5
26 Dec 2018 Manchester United v Huddersfield Town W 3-1
30 Dec 2018 Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth W 4-1
02 Jan 2019 Newcastle United v Manchester United W 0-2
05 Jan 2019 Manchester United v Reading FAC W 2-0

16 goals in five games scored and three conceded.   Of course their away wins in this run have been against Cardiff and Newcastle, and indeed all the clubs they have played have had more modest ambitions in terms of the league and cup, but still, it is an improvement over the results gained by the previous manager.

Tottenham’s last five games give us

26 Dec 2018 Tottenham Hotspur v AFC Bournemouth W 5-0
29 Dec 2018 Tottenham Hotspur v Wolverhampton Wanderers L 1-3
01 Jan 2019 Cardiff City v Tottenham Hotspur W 0-3
04 Jan 2019 Tranmere Rovers v Tottenham Hotspur FAC W 0-7
08 Jan 2019 Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea Lge Cup W 1-0

The defeat against Wolverhampton was a surprise – but again a reflection of the stuttering home form.   Conventional wisdom (actually based on quiate a large number of clubs) is that clubs do slip up when they change ground.  There seems to be an air of exceptation among supporters that a new ground means new achievements, but it doesn’t happen.  Tottenham may well have to face this twice because of a season playing home match at Wembley before a season at New White Hart Lane.

But on the other hand they have beaten Bournemouth 5-0 at Wembley and Chelsea 1-0.

The psychology

Manchester United are full of new belief, which is often known as the new manager bounce.   But all new manager bounces come to an end, and then normal service (as in what it was like before the psychological effect kicked in) returns.

Except in Manchester United’s case they were clearly underperforming given the talent available on the pitch, so this is a hard one to call.

As for Tottenham, the players know that Wembley is not home and that they were promised a stadium at home for the start of the season and there has been mumbling from the supporters.

I think the psychology could sway this one and that Manchester United could win.

The injuries.

Tottenham report five injuries according to physioroom.  Moura and Dembele are both a major doubt for this game, Dier, Vertonghen, Wanyama are out.   For Manchester Unitred Sanchez is a doubt, Rojo and Smalling are out.  Pogba might make it to the bench.

So overall, I’ll go for Man U.

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